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Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

Levy, Ariel Author

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9780743249898: Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

If male chauvinist pigs of years past thought of women as pieces of meat, female chauvinist pigs of today are doing them one better, making sex objects of other women -and of themselves. With a wink and a nudge, they are welcoming back strippers, porn stars and Playboy Bunnies as the heroes of post-feminist culture. Taking off your bra used to mean liberation - now it's just the sign of another girl gone wild in her attempt to win favour from the boys. In "Female Chauvinist Pigs" journalist Ariel Levy asks the question: What's in it for us women? In her quest for the answer, Levy interviews the college women who flash for the cameras on MTV and teenage girls raised on Paris Hilton and thongs. She talks to the high-powered women who create 'raunch culture', the new oinking women warriors of the corporate and entertainment worlds. And she sits down with Second Wave feminists, such as Susan Brownmiller and Erica Jong, to find out where they think women are headed today. As she explores the phenomenon of the Female Chauvinist Pig, Levy explains that these new women believe they are expressing sexual liberation and female empowerment, when really they are only conforming to stereotypes cooked long ago. Terrifically witty and wickedly intelligent, "Female Chauvinist Pigs" stands firmly in the tradition of Susan Faludi's "Backlash" and Naomi Wolf's "The Beauty Myth". It is the first book of its kind to emerge in more than a dozen years - and it's not a moment too soon.

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Review:

Ariel Levy’s debut book is a bold, piercing examination of how twenty-first century American society perceives sex and women. Writing vividly, she brings her readers to places she visited to make her assessment; the elevator of Playboy Enterprises with women auditioning to be Playmates in the fiftieth anniversary edition, a Florida beach where sunbathers urge a woman to take off her bathing suit for the camera crew of Girls Gone Wild, a San Francisco Italian restaurant where a lesbian worries she’s not dressed up enough for her date, a CAKE party in New York, with women grinding each other’s pelvises in time to pulsating dance rhythms, and outside a juice bar in Oakland where a beautiful high school student shares disappointment at her experiences with sex.

Levy cleverly leads us to explore the role models women aspire to emulate. We are not pursuing the confident, self-determined, powerful, free ideal the women’s liberation movement would have dreamed for its daughters. Instead, our icons are porn stars and strippers and prostitutes. Paris Hilton and Jenna Jameson flaunt their successes in the pornography industry, and in doing so seem to earn our adulation.

Levy relates our embracing of this raunchy culture to unresolved tensions thirty years ago between the sexual revolution and the women’s liberation movement, and amongst feminists; joy at discovering the delights of our clitoris conflicting with disgust at pornography’s objectification of women. She creates a convincing argument by analyzing a diverse spectrum of material; presents a fascinating palette of interviews with revolutionary women’s libbers, nouvelle raunchy feminists, and everyday women and men. Detailed facts and recurring names are sometimes cumbersome, albeit worth ploughing through for the ‘a-ha moments’.

The reality that we model ourselves on images whose "individuality is erased" is harsh, yet Levy’s work is imbued with hope – hope that women can celebrate their uniqueness instead of their ‘hotness’, explore their sexuality as delight rather than consume sex as currency, and succeed professionally because of their brilliant minds and personalities, not because of their brilliant bodies.--Megan Jones Ady

About the Author:

Ariel Levy is a contributing editor at New York magazine. This is her first book.

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